The Detroit Pistons managed to finish 8th in the eastern conference last season with a 41-41 record but they were quickly swept by the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pistons were outscored by roughly 20 points every game and the Pistons organization really needs to reflect on their roster moving forward. They have only made the playoffs twice in the past ten seasons with a playoff record of 0-8 and they haven’t won a playoff game since 2008 where they finished 2nd in the Conference lead by Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. This is the second season under head coach Dwane Casey as the former Coach of the Year looks to improve on last years playoff appearance. I think the Pistons have done a good job of focusing their gameplan around Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin and I think they will challenge for a playoff spot again this season.
Point Guard: Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose, Tim Frazier and Jordan Bone
Overview: The Pistons will have a battle for the starting point guard position between Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose. For the past four seasons Reggie Jackson has been the starting option in Detroit and last season was his first year playing all 82 games as he averaged 15.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 4.2 APG while shooting 36.9% from three. Reggie Jackson has been criticized defensively and he hasn’t been a pass first point guard but during the post season he improved his assist totals up to 7 APG with only 1.3 turnovers per contest. Derrick Rose is a nice addition for the Pistons as the 30 year old is coming off a fairly successful season where he averaged 18 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 4.3 APG while shooting 48.2% from the field in 27 minutes per game off the bench. Obviously injuries have been a major talking point in his career as he missed a large portion of the previous season with injuries but when healthy he is still a very good option. Tim Frazier is nice security for the Pistons as the third option at point guard as the 28 year old split last season with the Pelicans and the Bucks averaging 5 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 4.4 APG in 59 appearances. Finally the Pistons have Jordan Bone who was drafted 57th overall and is on a two-way contract as he will likely spend a lot of time in the G-League. The 21 year old spent three years at Tennessee averaging 13.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 5.8 APG during his final season while shooting 46.5% from the field.
Point Guard Grade: B
I’m a big fan of both Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose but both players have reached their potential at this point in their careers as reliable scoring options. Tim Frazier is a good veteran player and Jordan Bone could be an option for the Pistons next season.
Shooting Guard: Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Langston Galloway, Khyri Thomas
Overview: Luke Kennard really came into his own element last season with the Pistons as the former Duke guard averaged 9.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.8 APG while shooting 39.4% from three in 63 appearances. The postseason was his coming out party as he averaged 15 PPG, 4 RPG and 1.8 APG while shooting 60% (9-15) from three and the Pistons are ready to make him a starting option this season. Bruce Brown Jr. started in 56 games during his rookie season last year as the 42nd overall pick averaged 4.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 1.2 APG but I believe Detroit will place Kennard over Brown this upcoming season. The advantage for Bruce Brown is in his defensive game as he was a great college defender and he had some success last season but his offensive game is still not polished. Langston Galloway is a pure scoring option for the Pistons off the bench as the 6’2” guard averaged 8.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG and 0.5 APG while shooting 35.5% from three last season for Detroit. Galloway has made a career with his three point shooting and he does a great job of spacing the floor for Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Khyri Thomas was the 38th overall pick in the 2018 draft and the former Creighton guard played in 26 games last season averaging 2.3 PPG, 0.8 RPG and 0.3 APG in limited minutes.
Shooting Guard Grade: B-
I’m really excited for the Pistons, as I believe both Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown are poised for strong seasons but until they reach their potential it’s difficult to evaluate this group.
Small Forward: Tony Snell, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Michael Beasley
Overview: Tony Snell was acquired this offseason to give the team more experience on the wing with the departure of Wayne Ellington and Glenn Robinson. The 27th year old spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks where he averaged 6 PPG, 2.1 RPG and 0.9 APG while shooting 39.7% from three and 45.2% from the field in 17 minutes per game. His role in Milwaukee slowly began to fade as he went from being a starter in 2017 to being a role player last season. The Pistons give Snell an opportunity to play major minutes and make a big impact as a 3-and-D wing. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was acquired near the end of last season from the Lakers for Reggie Bullock as the 47th overall pick from the 2018 draft will try and get his career going with the Pistons. He played just 42 games last season averaging 3.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG and 0.9 APG while shooting 32.6% from three in very limited minutes. He was a sharpshooter for Kansas in College as he averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 2.7 APG while shooting 44.4% from three during his senior season. The Pistons recently acquired Michael Beasley and the 30 year old should be a good scoring option off the bench for the team. In 26 games last season with the Lakers he averaged 7 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 1 APG while shooting 49% from the field in 10 minutes of action.
Small Forward Grade: C-
Tony Snell is an okay veteran option but he has never been an all-star and he has never averaged more than 8.5 PPG in his career while Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk still needs to find his game in the NBA. Michael Beasley could break through for some points as he has shown in the past but he also hasn't been consistent.
Power Forward: Blake Griffin, Markieff Morris, Sekou Doumbouya
Overview: The first full season of the Blake Griffin Era was a success in many ways as the Pistons made the playoffs in part to the power forwards dominating play in the interior. The 30 year old averaged the most points per game in his career with 24.5 PPG while shooting 46.3% from the field and 36.2% from three. He also averaged 7.5 RPG, 5.4 APG and he played in 75 games, which was the most appearances he has had in a season since 2014. The Pistons don’t want to overwork Griffin too much as they added two power forwards this offseason in Markieff Morris and Sekou Doumbouya. Markieff Morris split last season with the Wizards and Thunder as he played 58 games total averaging 6.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 0.8 APG while shooting 33% from three. He has accepted the role coming off the bench over this past season and I think he will be a great depth option for the Pistons. Sekou Doumbouya is a bit of a wildcard as the 18 year old was drafted 15th overall this year after playing basketball overseas in France for the past season with Limoges CSP. He averaged 7.7 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 29 games and it’ll be interesting to see how he transitions to the NBA.
Power Forward Grade: A
This is a great line-up as they have an all-star in Blake Griffin with one of the best depth options in Markieff Morris and a 1st round pick in Sedou Doumbouya coming off the bench.
Center: Andre Drummond, Thon Maker, Christian Wood
Overview: Andre Drummond is the best rebounding Center in the NBA as the 26 year old averaged 15.6 rebounds last season and he has lead the league in three of the past four seasons in that category. Drummond also had his best offensive year last season averaging 17.3 PPG on 53.3% field goal shooting with 1.7 steals per game and 1.7 blocks per game. The Pistons have a scary interior threat with Drummond and Griffin and Andre has been very consistent over the past six seasons. Thon Maker was acquired in a trade from Milwaukee near the end of last season and in 29 games with Detroit he averaged 5.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 1.1 BPG while shooting 37.3% from the field. The 22 year old is still working on his game and he hasn’t been given a lot of opportunity to play top minutes but he should see around 20 minutes a game next season. Finally Christian Wood is a good option at Center as the 23 year old split last year with Milwaukee and New Orleans averaging 8.2 PPG, 4 RPG and 0.4 APG while shooting 50% from the field. His numbers are exaggerated a bit as the Center only played in 21 games and he started a couple of games with the Pelicans including one game where he scored 23 points.
Center Grade: B+
Having Andre Drummond playing 33 minutes a night is big for the Pistons and Thon Maker is a great addition as the 22 year old still has potential to develop into a good option.
What to Expect from this season
The Pistons are looking to make the playoffs for the second straight season but it’s going to be tough. They have a lot to be excited about with Derrick Rose, the development of Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard as well as their interior play of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. My concerns with the Pistons are with their small forwards Tony Snell, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Michael Beasley as I don’t believe the Pistons have really found their ideal option at small forward. I think they should attempt to sign Carmelo Anthony and place him in a role where he can find success as the Pistons run their offense from the paint first and then kick it out. When teams double team Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond it will allow Carmelo to have more time and space from the perimeter but as I am writing this Carmelo still isn’t signed. My win total prediction for this team is 43 as I believe they will make the playoffs for the second straight season.